One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in business over the years is never to become satisfied.
However successful you and your business may be, keep challenging yourself and your colleagues.
Never assume that you’ve nailed it because there’s always something else to learn and aspire to; there is always a better way of doing things.
New competitors to your business will be snapping at your heels with a way of beating you when it comes to your products or services. It’s important to maintain awareness and consider their ability to solve your clients and prospective clients’ challenges.
You see it time and time again; businesses caught being complacent because they have grown very content doing what they’ve always done, in the way they’ve always done it.
If you’re not learning then you aren’t building upon new opportunities to obtain more knowledge, skills, and experience. You need to challenge yourself to seek out new experiences.
This applies as much to the small everyday things in your business as well as the large undertakings.
This doesn’t require a complete overhaul of your entire business model or way of operating, but there may be many tiny things you can change for the better that will make an incredible impact as time passes.
I’ve seen offices meeting status quo and producing the same results for years or declining slowly over time. This is a dangerous habit to get into because if you don’t keep investing your time, ideas and energy (not to mention your capital) into growing your business, you’ll find yourself being quickly overtaken by newer, keener kids on the block.
My company Peninsula has come up with five ideas below to keep you thinking fresh and to help you get focused when you’re finding yourself overwhelmed by the minutiae of the day-to-day.
1. Check out of your technology for one whole morning.
I never check emails first thing because I find that’s the time when I’m most productive and creative; I always try to use that period to get my writing and thinking out of the way. So why not take a technology holiday; a one-man or one-woman “away day”?
If an entire day is too long to be offline, a morning of focused work should still be enough to achieve some good results. Go to a different space where you can think openly and dedicate yourself to coming up with ways to develop and grow your business. Turn off your phone, disconnect from technology and concentrate entirely on the job at hand.
2. Start anew.
One way to approach your away morning/day is to review your business as if you were looking at it from an outsider’s perspective. Try to question everything. Why do we do things this way? Is there a better way of doing it?
Are we just sticking with familiar behaviors because we’ve always done it like this, and if so, how can we change or improve them? Asking yourself these questions can provoke clever answers.
3. Educate yourself.
Another thing to do in this planning /thinking session is to take along all the business magazines, industry publications, podcasts, newspaper and website clippings etc. that you’ve been planning to read and listen to for as long as you can remember.
Skim through them all and make notes on what’s going on outside your world (without checking your email if you need to go online to access information!)
What is the competition doing? What’s best practice for other businesses? What can you learn and outdo in your business that will take you that next step forward? Is there a course you could take that would help you mature your business or books you could read?
Note all of this down and order the three books that you think will most impact your personal or professional development as soon as you finish your day away session set a realistic goal and plan to read them.
4. Think holistically.
Taking your business forward does not always mean creating the next big thing. There are lots of other areas you can improve in your business to make you more profitable, effective and concentrated.
Think about how you invoice, how you interact with clients, how you present your work, what technologies you are using, how you manage your staff (if you have them), where you source your product, whether there are other markets you could enter etc.
5. Don’t try to do it all at once.
Once you’ve been able to review your landscape beyond your office walls, then step back and choose your top three priorities for the next six months. Once you’ve recognized these, come up with a strategy and supporting tactics to make these priorities become actuality.
Set targets along the way which will help you to see that you are gaining traction in these areas. Slow and steady can win the race but most importantly, make sure you get on with it straight away.
So once you’ve had your strategy session, head back to the office, switch your technology back on and get on with the job of making it happen.
The key thing now is to crack on and see if it works: you should have done enough research by going through this process to justify your priorities for the next six months instead of flailing around in the dark wondering where to go next, so feel confident in what you’re doing.
And hopefully, by taking time out to undertake this exercise, you should feel refreshed and invigorated, knowing roughly where you’re going for the next six months and feeling invigorated to achieve your goals.